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How do you value an old/historic home for insurance?

March 16, 2011

I found this on another blog and think it’s a thread worth reading. We ran into this issue when we bought our home. How do I value the wrought iron detailing, plaster walls, coved ceilings and arched doorways, solid cherry trim/doors and original solid brass fixtures, and the tapered fire place with handmade tiles and original sconces? AAA Home insurance doesn’t have a value calculator for these type of things.

We’ve just been reviewing our homeowners insurance. I sat down with our agent today to ask questions and talk about how to determine how much insurance we should have on the house. Ours is a 1913 bungalow, 1 +1/2 stories, about 1700 square feet in total. In the 18 years we’ve owned our home, we’ve done numerous upgrades and restorations. Too many to list here, but it’s had all new plumbing, heating, electrical, sewer, phone, electronics, roof & insulation and remodeled kitchen and baths, repaired plaster, refinished wood floors – most of it in the last 5 years. What’s particularly hard to value is “replacement”.
I guess you’d have to look at what another old house in similar condition to ours would sell for in our market. It may not be practical/affordable to insure it for what it would cost to build new buying heart pine floors and the old growth doors and woodwork and old glass and antique light fixtures and hardware, etc.
Our insurance agent is very helpful and nice, but her computer is only able to estimate things in general terms. Examples of variables they use are: square feet, type of structure, building type – standard, above average, custom or premium? Building costs per square foot in our area are $120 – $150/ sq.ft. We talked about getting an appraisal, but she thought the same generalizations would likely apply with an appraisal; “X square feet”, “Y quality construction”, and they may add in some special items, and apply $ per sq.foot.
I don’t know that I have a succinct question here, but I think I’m having trouble thinking about how you value an antique, and the special work you’ve done restoring woodwork and light fixtures and hardware, and the excellent layout and finishes you’ve carefully added to your kitchen and bath. We just need to decide what dollar value we’ll put on the “structure”… We’ll assign an updated figure, but whatever it is I’m pretty sure it won’t be enough. …Maybe because we’ve put more money into the house than we should have. …Maybe because I just couldn’t bear to lose our special home. Here’s hoping I’ll never need to know.
Do any of you struggle with this concept?
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2011 10:22 AM

    Interesting blog and great information, Keep it up..

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